Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


The appearance and growth of museums of art in the Great Plains have taken place mainly in recent decades. Although nearly 100 museums devoted to the collection and display of art in one form or another can be counted in the region at present, it should be recognized that they are frequently of an embryonic nature–historic houses, collections of popular or Native American art, exhibition facilities without permanent collections, and gallery adjuncts to teaching institutions. The collections themselves have ranged from work produced by local artists, to collections of American art as a whole, to the more restricted range of the art of the American West, to the art of Native Americans. Collections of modern and contemporary art have been the last to appear, evidence as they are of the transcending of the historically regional characteristic of the Great Plains.

Outstanding among the institutions located from Edmonton, Saskatchewan, to Marfa, Texas, are the collections of Native American art at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado, and the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Important collections of the art of the American West, especially in its pioneer phase, are located at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta (which also specializes in the art of Canada's First Peoples), the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Woolaroc Museum in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Collections of the work of individual artists, important to the history of the region, are those devoted to Harvey Dunn at the South Dakota Memorial Art Center in Brookings, South Dakota; Oscar Howe at the University Art Galleries in Vermillion, South Dakota; Sven Birger Sandzen at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas; and Charles M. Russell at the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, and the Center for Great Plains Studies Art Collection in Lincoln, Nebraska. A museum devoted exclusively to the art of a single state is a recent development of the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney.

Some of the museums of the Great Plains region have developed holdings of national importance. Among them are the collections of American art of the twentieth century at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas, and at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The Winnipeg Art Gallery, the nation's first civic art gallery, houses the world's largest collection of contemporary Inuit art. The arts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America are represented by works of world-class quality in the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.

Norman A. Geske Lincoln, Nebraska

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